Orthodox believers developing into dominant social group - researcher

Moscow, Russia - The Russian Orthodox Church is gaining authority in the eyes of the young, Deputy Dean of Moscow State University's Department of Sociology Igor Ryazantsev said.

Sociologists from the department and the Russian Sociological Society asked 1,800 young people in seven federal districts about their attitude towards the Russian Orthodox Church.

Eight percent of respondents said they are Orthodox churchgoers, and another 55% believe in God but do not go to church. Thirty-three percent said they feel positive about the Russian Orthodox Church regardless of their own religious convictions, and only 4% said their feelings are negative.

"Obviously, the Russian Orthodox Church has become an authoritative social institute in the eyes of young Russians. The society of militant atheists is gone," Ryazantsev said.

Fifty-three percent of respondents said that the Russian president should be an Orthodox believer, and 33.5% said that the opinion of the patriarch must be taken into account when making state decisions.

Seventy-two percent of respondents agreed that Orthodoxy is a national tradition of the Russian state, and 75% said that the Orthodox belief is the foundation of Russian culture.